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Popular Destinations near Washington DC
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The District of Columbia is the most influential and critical seat of power in the world. The capital of the United States of America and headquarters of the federal government is custom-made for tourists, a reality in stark contrast with metro D.C. however, where crime and poverty is rife in many areas.

The urban sprawl of Washington beyond the capital region, home to over 5 million people, is not why people visit the city however, as lamentable as conditions outside the shiny landmarks may be. From war memorials to Presidential monuments, D.C. is a brash display of nationalism that for better or worse is arguably the most remarkable spectacle of patriotism in the world.

Attractions

The White House

As the Executive Mansion and official residence of the President of the United States, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW is the most famous address in the world. While daily public tours of the White House were halted indefinitely as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even a cursory glance of the famous home is impressive.

National Mall

The National Mall is ground zero in Washington D.C. for political protests and celebrations, with a surfeit of peerless attractions in close proximity, from the Capitol to the Washington Monument obelisk. The park was the location of the March on Washington in 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his indelible “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln Memorial

Of all the Presidential memorials in the capital, Lincoln is perhaps the most inspirational, in part because King chose it for his historic address. The memorial, in the style of a Doric temple, features a colossal sculpture of the slain President.

Smithsonian Museums

People tend to associate the Smithsonian with one museum when in fact the Institution runs no less than 18 in the capital city, 10 of which line the National Mall. The most popular and best of the lot are the Air and Space Museum and Museum of Natural History.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a sober reminder of the sacrifices ordinary soldiers made in the controversial Vietnam War. Almost 60,000 names appear on the austere twin walls of black granite.

Events

Independence Day

Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall are the most festive in the country. The party on July 4 is every bit as impressive as one would expect from the federal capital.

National Barbecue Battle

The National Barbecue Battle in late June draws thousands of people to Pennsylvania Avenue for arguably the best culinary competition in America.

Kennedy Center Prelude Festival

The Kennedy Center Prelude Festival in September opens a new season at the preeminent national concert all, with a number of free performances for the general public.

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week in early January is features a line-up of special menus and events at top restaurants in the D.C. area.

Black History Month

Black History Month in February honours the vital African American heritage of Washington D.C. The community comprises over 55% of the metro population and as such, the month-long tribute features a number of special museum exhibits.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend in late May commemorates the service of America’s veterans with concerts and special events on the National Mall.

Climate

Though Washington D.C. has a humid subtropical climate, the city is prone to subzero cold in the winter months, with occasional snowfall.

  • Winter (December to February) -3-8°C
  • Spring (March to April) 3-19°C
  • Summer (May to September) 13-31°C
  • Fall (October to November) 4-20°C
The White House

As the Executive Mansion and official residence of the President of the United States, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW is the most famous address in the world. While daily public tours of the White House were halted indefinitely as a result of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, even a cursory glance of the famous home is impressive.

National Mall

The National Mall is ground zero in Washington D.C. for political protests and celebrations, with a surfeit of peerless attractions in close proximity, from the Capitol to the Washington Monument obelisk. The park was the location of the March on Washington in 1963, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his indelible “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln Memorial

Of all the Presidential memorials in the capital, Lincoln is perhaps the most inspirational, in part because King chose it for his historic address. The memorial, in the style of a Doric temple, features a colossal sculpture of the slain President.

Smithsonian Museums

People tend to associate the Smithsonian with one museum when in fact the Institution runs no less than 18 in the capital city, 10 of which line the National Mall. The most popular and best of the lot are the Air and Space Museum and Museum of Natural History.

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall is a sober reminder of the sacrifices ordinary soldiers made in the controversial Vietnam War. Almost 60,000 names appear on the austere twin walls of black granite.

Independence Day

Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall are the most festive in the country. The party on July 4 is every bit as impressive as one would expect from the federal capital.

National Barbecue Battle

The National Barbecue Battle in late June draws thousands of people to Pennsylvania Avenue for arguably the best culinary competition in America.

Kennedy Center Prelude Festival

The Kennedy Center Prelude Festival in September opens a new season at the preeminent national concert all, with a number of free performances for the general public.

Though Washington D.C. has a humid subtropical climate, the city is prone to subzero cold in the winter months, with occasional snowfall.

  • Winter (December to February) -3-8°C
  • Spring (March to April) 3-19°C
  • Summer (May to September) 13-31°C
  • Fall (October to November) 4-20°C

Washington DC Hotels

Washington DC

Welcoming Washington

A first glance, Washington DC seems like a stuffy, stubborn old man sitting in his chair and refusing to the change. But look a little deeper and you’ll actually discover that he’s wearing Converse sneakers and playing on his Smartphone! ... Read more »

With so much white stone around, from the White House to the Capitol, you almost need sunglasses to walk around the city centre. The political buildings and monuments are designed to impress – and they do that, but that’s not all Washington DC has to offer.

There are also great places to eat such as Fisherman’s Wharf, places to go like Chinatown and trendy bars to hop to in the U Street Corridor. Or you could lose yourself in and between one of the many museums, including the American History Museum, and the mother of them all, the Smithsonian.

If you look hard enough, you can find trendy ways to see this stubborn, traditional city. Why not take a Segue Tour or jump in a paddleboat to while away an afternoon on the Potomac River.

The seat of US (and global) power, Washington DC is an unashamedly patriotic city in an almost laughably patriotic country. Go for the grandeur, yes, and feel slightly cowed – as the architects intended – at being surrounded by the physical manifestations of great power. But then realise that humans ultimately wield power, and by digging a little deeper you discover that Washington DC is one of the most human cities there is.

Washington, DC: Create your own powerful moments

No other city offers as many fun, FREE, world-class attractions to fill your days. From museums to performances to outdoor activities, there’s something for everyone! Discover our monuments and memorials, our 16 Smithsonian Museums , the National Zoo, as well as the National Gallery of Art, National Archives, the Bureau of Printing and Engraving all free of charge. Plus, where else in the world can you visit with a 19-foot President Lincoln, read the real U.S. Constitution, see Dorothy’s ruby red slippers and soak in internationally acclaimed art for free (or almost free)? Only in Washington, DC.

Washington’s Top 10

10. The Washington Monument Makes even the most confident man feel a little inadequate. Take your boyfriend for a visit if he’s getting a bit cocky.

5. J Edgar Hoover FBI Building: Home of ‘the Feds’, you can take a guided tour, see some sharp-shooters in action and discover fascinating and gruesome facts about America’s lawless past and present. And it’s all named after a man who liked wearing women’s underwear!

9. Chinatown Knows as ‘China block’ to some, this is home to some great restaurants and one of the best places to do some people watching.

4. American History Museum Loads of… you guessed it, American History. Go if only for the super-cool pop culture display, covering everything from Seinfeld to Sesame Street!

8. Lincoln Memorial It’s hard not to be impressed at the site of old Abe sitting on his big chair.

3. National Air & Space Museum Will. Blow. Your. Mind. Unless you’re a know-it-all. But no one likes a know-it-all.

7. National Building Museum Not part of the Smithsonian collection, this off-the-beaten-track museum features a Lego Empire State Building among other surprising little features.

2. The White House Seems obvious, but it’s a must-see. You’ll get one of those ‘wow’ moments just walking past.

6. National Mall: Ok, so it’s a whole suburb, we know, but you should take some time out to walk through the beautiful gardens and parks. Especially during summer or autumn.

1. Museum Fun for all ages, this museum combines all the best parts of history under one roof. Also a great rooftop view of the city.

Washington, DC, History

  • Mount Vernon Estate – This 500-acre property along the shores of the Potomac River belonged to George Washington.
  • Old Stone House – This is the oldest-known house in Washington, DC.
  • US Capitol Building – One of the most recognised and historical buildings in the US.
  • White House – This place has served as home and office to each of the US presidents since John Adams.
  • Washington Monument – Construction on this landmark started in 1848 and finished in 1884.

Washington, DC, Art & Culture

  • International Spy Museum – A place of wonder that tells the story of spies and espionage throughout history.
  • Holocaust Memorial Museum – Exhibits show the history and impact of the Holocaust.
  • National Air and Space Museum Smithsonian Institution – Holds the biggest collection of aviation and space history artefacts worldwide.
  • John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts – This Washington, DC, centre features cultural programs and events, ballet, musical and theatrical performances.
  • National Gallery of Art – This great art collection is housed in two buildings.

Washington, DC, Power Shopping

Fashionistas, take note: Hop on the metro to Friendship Heights where you’ll get to shop for high-end designer fashions at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany and more. Wisconsin Avenue's where it's at for new looks from local designers. Hunting for home furnishings and vintage clothing? Go to U Street corridor. Stocking up on wardrobe basics? You might want to start in Georgetown. You’ll also find some of the top shopping centers and outlet malls in the country just minutes from downtown.

  • Capitol Hill Barracks Row – The place to go for gifts, antiques and fresh produce.
  • Chevy Chase and Friendship Heights – Offers high-end designs and fashions from some of the best-known stores and brands.
  • Downtown – A relatively new shopping area in Washington, DC, offering a bit of everything.
  • Dupont Circle – Shops here sell things like awesome art, funky accessories, second-hand books and more.
  • Georgetown – Great place for shoes and clothing that are locally designed and made.

Gay & Lesbian Washington, DC

  • Apex – A popular place to hang out or show off great moves on the dance floor.
  • Cobalt – This is a destination for dancing and lively nightlife.
  • DIK Bar – The place to go for those looking to socialise and view the yearly drag queen high-heels race.
  • Duplex Diner – A cosy restaurant and gay bar with tasty food.
  • Green Lantern – Offers happy hour and other specials, pool tables, karaoke and video games.

Washington, DC, Outdoor

  • Constitution Gardens – A popular place in Washington, DC, for a picnic.
  • Rock Creek Park – Bike, hike, ride horses and more at this park.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Island – Rent a canoe from the Georgetown Waterfront and explore the island.
  • Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens – Devoted to aquatic plants, with a total of 45 ponds and more than 100,000 ferns, water lilies and lotuses.
  • National Arboretum – A lovely place to stroll through acres of trees, flowering plants and various gardens.

Washington, DC, Sport

  • Watch the Washington Redskins play American football at the FedEx Field.
  • Participate in the Rock 'n' Roll USA Marathon held each March in Washington, DC.
  • Catch a Washington Capitals hockey game at the Verizon Center.
  • See the Washington Nationals baseball team play at the waterfront National Park stadium.
  • Cheer on the DC United football team at the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium Stadium.

Neighbourhoods’ Highlights

Beyond DC’s iconic memorials and monuments a number of unique neighborhoods unfold throughout the city. Take some time to venture off the National Mall to explore the city’s collection of sidewalk cafés, quaint boutiques, gorgeous parks and gardens, charming museums and trendy nightlife. From the urban buzz in downtown’s Penn Quarter to the tranquility of Woodley Park to the up-all-night feel of Adams Morgan, there’s so much to see and do beyond the Mall.

Washington Local

National Mall

The National Mall is the main area of interest for most tourists. Museum central, it’s also home to the tourist attracting Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial, as well as some lesser known but very cool sites like the Reflecting Pool and the National Mall Carousel.

Capitol Hill

If power trips are your thing – take a trip to the seat of legislative and judicial power. Capitol Hill is home to the US Capitol (America’s parliament), the US Supreme Court and the Library of Congress. Union Station and the National Postal Museum are nearby in case you want to leave or go postal (in the non-psychopathic sense).

Equally, if politics, trains and stamps really aren’t your thing, head to Eastern Marketfor organic produce and local arts and crafts.

Lafayette Square

Just north of National Mall is this historic area. A lovely family called the Obamas live on Pennsylvania Avenue (at number 1600 to be exact – it’s not very well numbered, so keep an eye out for an attractive little White House). You’re welcome to drop in for a guided tour, but expect quite a few other people to be there, too. And don’t expect to see the Obama’s. Or their dog.

Historic St John’s Churchis just across the road from Barack and Michelle’s place and nearby is the Treasury Building – depending on who or what you worship

Dupont Circle

Party central. Home to some of the best restaurants in town and a great place to go bar-hopping or clubbing, Dupont Circle is also a hub for the trendy lesbian and gay community, so you know there’ll be excellent fashion and music.

As far as sites go, you’re better off sipping the cocktails and stuffing your face, but you can always check out the Dupont Memorial Fountain and DC’s best art gallery, the Phillips Collection, along with a few other smaller galleries. Or stroll down Massachusetts Avenue if you’re excited by modern and classic architecture.

U Street Corridor

A must see is the birthplace of the late Duke Ellington in this classically American suburb of U Street Corridor. Noted for its African-American artists, eclectic businesses and restaurants, the neighbourhood is alive day and night.

Get educated at the African American Civil War Memorial and Museum, then entertained by grabbing a beer and catching some live music on every corner. In particular, check out the performance art spaces of Source Theatre, the Black Cat and HR57.

And if you’re in the corridor, you’ve got to go to Ben’s Chilli Bowl, an American institution and one that is sure to leave you satisfied. It’s run entirely on wind power – and let’s just say that after a few bowls of Ben’s famous fare, you could be, too.

Washington DC Eats & Drinks

It’s no secret that DC’s dining star is on the rise. Foodies flock here for our celebrity chefs, top-rated restaurants and, of course, exceptional cuisine. Recently ranked in the Top 10 “America’s Best Restaurant Cities,” Washington, DC offers eclectic dining options throughout its many unique neighborhoods. Whether you’re looking for an over-the-top evening experience or a quick bite at lunch, DC has something to satisfy every taste bud!

Red Rocks Pizza Brick-fired pizzas with the freshest ingredients imported from Italy. Voted the best in DC. NW

Rocklands BBQ In case you were in the market for a whole pig, this is the place to go. Masses of any meat you can smoke or chuck on the BBQ. Best ribs in town. Wisconsin Ave

Blues AlleySmall setting, but good food and great music. The sounds are more jazz than blues, but the soul definitely flows. Georgetown

Fisherman’s Wharf Have the freshest seafood killed, gutted and cooked right in front of you. Bliss. Washington Channel

Prime Rib Proper dingy steakhouse without the side of pretention. Dig in to a massive lump of meat and then settle in at the bar. NW

Matchbox Pizza You’ll have to line up for this incredibly popular pizzeria. But it’s worth it for the deep-pan Chicago-style fare. NW

Nora’s Settle in for a lazy dinner in this quaint eatery that is doing new things with old food. Well, old ingredients at least, we’re sure they’re fresh! Adams Morgan

Old Ebbitt Grill Smack bang in the middle of everything, this is the place to get proper American food. Burgers, oysters and fish-and-chips. Central

America A themed restaurant where the name is the giveaway. Decent serves of decent food and an atmosphere to match.

Ben’s Chili Bowl So entirely American that you couldn’t miss it. Signature hot-dogs from $5 as well as the chance to see some famous faces! Bill Cosby eats for free! Central

Family Fun

Kids will quickly find a favorite museum when visiting Washington, DC. Whether they want to see a space shuttle that has soared through space, marvel at an 80-foot dinosaur skeleton or learn what it takes to be a successful spy, many of DC’s museum exhibits are geared towards keeping kids (and their parents) engaged. And with so many free attractions and family-friendly restaurants, a vacation in Washington, DC makes everyone smile.

Washington Events

Restaurant Week

Restaurant Week in early January features a line-up of special menus and events at top restaurants in the DC area. Undo that top button and prepare to enter a food coma you may never recover from.

Black History Month

Black History Month in February honours the vital African-American heritage of Washington DC. The community comprises over 55% of the metro population and this month-long tribute features a number of special museum exhibits.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend in late May commemorates the service of America’s veterans with concerts and special events on the National Mall.

National Barbecue Battle

The National Barbecue Battle in late June draws thousands of people to Pennsylvania Avenue for arguably the best culinary competition in America.

Independence Day

Independence Day celebrations on the National Mall are the most festive in the country. The party on 4 July is every bit as impressive as one would expect from the federal capital.

Kennedy Center Prelude Festival

The Kennedy Center Prelude Festival in September opens a new season at the preeminent national concert hall, with a number of free performances for the general public.

When To Go

Winter (December to February): -3-8°C (27-46°F). Chilly to say the least, but the White House Christmas decorations are a sight to behold.

Spring (March to April): 3-19°C (37-66°F). While temperatures are generally pleasant, they can drop suddenly so take a jacket even on sunny days.

Summer (May to September): 13-31°C (55-88°F). Barbecue and strolling heaven, this is a great time to take in the city.

Autumn (October to November): 4-20°C (39-68°F). Autumn is a beautiful time of year and gives you a chance to take in the spectacular colours of the changing leaves.

What To Miss

There is a lot of crime in Washington DC (and not just on Capitol Hill!), but as long as you keep your wits about you and don’t go wandering off too far on your own you should be completely fine.

When catching a taxi, it’s OK to hail one down but there are a few different companies that are rivals. Occasionally, you might be told you need to go to a rank instead of hailing.

Some people find too many museums a bit of a drain. We recommend breaking it up and spending the morning lazing at breakfast or cutting the tours short to sit with a beer and watch the people go past. It’s easy to find you’ve spent all your time in museums without seeing the city as it lives.

Washington DC is probably smaller than you’re imagining. It’s a good idea to check if your next spot is within walking distance before you jump in a cab that you don’t really need.

Getting Around

Plan your trip, especially late at night. We wouldn’t recommend strolling around alone after dark in quiet areas.

Taxis are everywhere in central DC. The pricing works on a zone system, with one zone costing US$5 and US$1.50 for each additional zone. There’s also a US$1.50 charge for each additional passenger and a US$1 rush hour charge. Split it between mates and you won’t even notice!

  • Buses are pretty good in DC and the surrounding suburbs. Technically called the ‘Metrobus’, you’ll pay around US$1.25 for a trip.
  • Metrois DC’s efficient subway network. You can ride for around US$1.50 although there are extra charges for long trips or during peak-hour. You’ll need to get a farecard, which allows you to buy single, or multiple trips.

Fun & Alternative Tours

Take a tour on a futuristic Segway and zip in and around the memorials. Pedal your way around town with Bike the Sites or hop on and off at only the sites you want to see with Old Town Trolley Tours. Foodies might dine around town with DC Metro Food Tours, those who are interested in romance should plan a Monuments by Moonlight tour, and for all the “wannabe spies” out there you may select the Spy City Tours.


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The Liaison Capitol Hill an Affinia Hotel
Reviewer score
4.4
out of 51 Reviews
415 New Jersey Avenue North West Washington DC DC 20001

The Liaison Capitol Hill an Affinia Hotel offers cosmopolitan business and leisure travellers sophisticated accommodat... More hotel details

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Grand Hyatt Washington
Reviewer score
3.6
out of 51 Reviews
1000 H Street Northwest Washington DC DC 20001

Be it for business or leisure, travellers find stylish retreat at Grand Hyatt Washington set centrally in this vibrant... More hotel details

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St. Gregory Luxury Hotel and Suites
Reviewer score
4.4
out of 51 Reviews
2033 M Street NorthWest Washington DC DC 20036

Business and leisure travellers looking for deluxe units and warm atmosphere in the US capital book a stay at St. Greg... More hotel details

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Washington Plaza Hotel
Reviewer score
4.0
out of 52 Reviews
10 Thomas Circle North West Washington DC DC 20005

Washington Plaza Hotel is a sleek, downtown-area haven providing contemporary comforts to business and leisure travell... More hotel details

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The Dupont Circle Hotel Washington DC
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 51 Reviews
1500 New Hampshire Avenue North West Washington DC DC 20036

The Dupont Circle Hotel Washington DC offers luxury accommodations in the heart of Washington DC. Guests are just thre... More hotel details

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Phoenix Park Hotel Washington DC
Reviewer score
3.6
out of 52 Reviews
520 North Capitol Street North West Washington DC DC 20001

Attracting tourists, business executives, diplomats and lobbyists, the Phoenix Park Hotel boasts lovely and luxurious ... More hotel details

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 Savoy Suites Hotel
Reviewer score
3.0
out of 51 Reviews
2505 Wisconsin Avenue North West Georgetown Washington DC DC 20007

Savoy Suites Hotel welcomes business and leisure travellers to comfortable and cosy accommodations close to local attr... More hotel details

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Carlyle Suites Hotel
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 53 Reviews
1731 New Hampshire Avenue NW Washington DC 20009

Carlyle Suites Hotel welcomes business and leisure travellers to contemporary accommodations in the heart of Washingto... More hotel details

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State Plaza Hotel
Reviewer score
3.6
out of 57 Reviews
2117 East Street Northwest Washington DC 20037

The State Plaza Hotel offers comfortable accommodations in one of DC's best locations. Guests can walk to the Kennedy ... More hotel details

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Fairmont Washington DC Georgetown
Reviewer score
4.6
out of 51 Reviews
2401 M Street North West Washington DC DC 20037

Whether in the city for business or leisure, travellers find ideal base at Fairmont Washington DC Georgetown with luxu... More hotel details

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